Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (502)

Joan Burton

Question:

502. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has been advised as to the likely rate of take-up under the national broadband plan of high-speed broadband by homes and businesses in the State intervention area; if he has assessed the consequences of a low take-up rate on the average cost per household; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22002/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The deployment of the network within the NBP intervention area will commence at contract award and take up to seven years to complete. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 premises each year thereafter until roll out is completed. The ultimate take-up of the service is estimated to be around 80%. This will be driven by linking payment of subsidy to verification of connections made by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) as well as passing premises in the Intervention Area. There are also requirements in the contract around demand stimulation and stakeholder engagement to drive take up.

The nearest comparison in relation to take up is the eir 300k rural deployment. Take up of this service is in line with the trajectory anticipated by eir when it planned the rural fibre rollout. The rate of take up along eir's 300k deployment has increased throughout 2018 and is expected to increase further as eir proceeds to pass and connect further premises every month and as awareness of the availability of high speed broadband improves and retailers offer a choice and variety of communications packages over the network. There is nothing to suggest that demand in the intervention area would differ from the demand for high speed broadband in urban areas, or in the eir 300k deployment area.

In addition, the bidder was required to develop and analyse the demand for their service. This included profiling of demographics, surveys and benchmarking exercises. The bidder carried out a market analysis of the end-users in the intervention area as well as a benchmarking analysis for the demand for a high speed broadband service by those likely end-users. This analysis supported forecasted demand for take-up which was included in the final tender submission.

The level of subsidy is capped and NBI bears all risk beyond that provided for within the subsidy allowed, for example the cost of materials, labour and any lower than expected take up.